DOHA: Turkey and the Gulf Cooperation Council will meet on Feb. 26-27 for a third round of talks on a free-trade agreement, the GCC secretary general said on Thursday.
Aberrahman Al-Attiyah said visiting Turkish President Abduallah Gul had expressed hopes during a meeting on Wednesday that the deal could be firmed up then.
Gul said Wednesday his country planned to sign a free-trade agreement with Arab Gulf countries after two years of negotiations with the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council.
He also said the free-trade agreements with the GCC, which includes Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Oman, would boost ties and trigger more economic cooperation between Turkey and the oil-rich Arab countries.
The two preceding rounds of talks, in 2005 and 2006, were inconclusive because of delays in reaching a similar deal between the GCC and the European Union, with the latter having a customs accord with Turkey, Attiyah said.
Now that the details of the GCC-EU accord are clear, that will facilitate a deal with Turkey, Attiyah added in remarks carried by the official QNA news agency.
Gul is wrapping up a three-day visit to Qatar that began on Tuesday. He met with ruler, Sheik Hamad Bin Khalifa al-Thani, earlier Wednesday.
Gul said Turkey would start importing natural gas from Qatar beginning in 2010. Turkey heavily depends on imports from Iran and Russia and is looking for ways to diversify its gas supplies.
“We are keen on buying Qatar s gas, Gul told reporters.
Gul also announced during his trip an agreement to remove the double taxation of dual residents income. About 7,000 Turkish nationals live in this tiny sheikdom, and 22 Turkish contracting companies operate here. – Agencies